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Lotemax Gel vs Drops: What’s the Difference?

by The GoodRx Pharmacist on December 10, 2015 at 11:03 am

Lotemax (loteprednol) is a common eye prescription used to treat various causes of eye inflammation and allergic conjunctivitis (red, itchy eyes from allergies).

Even if you’re familiar with Lotemax, you may not know that it comes in several different forms—eye drops, an ointment, and a gel—and they aren’t all the same.

Can all of the different forms be used interchangeably?

No. Unlike the eye drops, the gel and ointment are only approved to treat inflammation and reduce pain after eye surgery. The gel is the newest form, approved in October of 2012, while the eye drops have been available since 2008.

Is there an advantage to using the Lotemax gel compared to the drops or ointment?

Yes. All 3 forms have the same active ingredient (loteprednol), but the gel is better for comfort and tolerability. This means it has several advantages:

  • First, Lotemax gel provides a consistent dose in every drop—unlike the eye drops where the dose can vary if you forget to vigorously shake the bottle before using.
  • There are also far fewer preservatives in the gel. Preservatives like benzalkonium chloride (BAK) commonly used in eye drops can cause adverse effects including dry eyes or stinging. The gel formulation has a lower concentration of BAK—and is made with moisturizers glycerin and propylene glycol.
  • Finally, Lotemax gel is thicker than the eye drop suspension which lets it “stick” to your eye better. This also means you’ll have less blurriness compared to the ointment.

Are there disadvantages to using the eye drops (the ophthalmic suspension form)?

Yes—you need to vigorously shake the bottle before using in order to get a consistent dose. Many people do not remember to shake the before using, which can limit the effectiveness of the drops.

Are there disadvantages to using the ointment?

Yes, a couple. First, the ointment can blur your vision when it’s applied. This can be uncomfortable or inconvenient at best, especially if you already have trouble seeing.

Like the drops, using the ointment can also mean less accurate dosing. It can be difficult to accurately measure out the typical dose of a half-inch ribbon of ointment.

Do any of the available forms offer extra savings?

Yes—this is another advantage to the gel. Even using a GoodRx discount, a bottle of Lotemax gel may be $20 – $40 cheaper than a bottle of Lotemax eye drops, and $50 or more less than a tube of Lotemax ointment.

There isn’t a generic available for any of the dosage forms yet, but if the $150 – $250 price tag is too high, you may want to talk to your doctor about other corticosteroids that may work for you instead.

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